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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘fire’

Postcard from Israel: Mount Carmel

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

December 2nd will mark two years since the Mount Carmel forest fire disaster in which 44 people died, including members of the Israeli Prison Service, a bus driver, members of the Israeli Police Force and fire-fighters.

Two years on, the 35,000 dunams of forest and natural woodland consumed by the fire still bears the scars, but signs of new life are also abundant. Beit Oren and other communities severely damaged by the fire are being rebuilt and a monument to those who lost their lives – designed by Natanel Ben Yitzhak – has been constructed near the site of the disaster.

 

Visit CifWatch.com.

My Soul Is On Fire (Part I)

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Allan is a very troubled nineteen-year-old who has been coming to see me since August. Actually, I’m never sure if Allan will make it to the next appointment. Since we first met, I have been amazed at the amount of emotional turmoil and pain he is in. Every appointment seems to bring another “cry” for help. His anguish is noted by his constant crying and threats of harm to himself and others. In fact, he doesn’t seem to filter his words and randomly ensures that I know about his aggressive thoughts. Just last week he told me that nobody ever believes him when he is in pain and so he feels the need to show them – he says that he doused his hand in a flammable liquid and set it on fire just to show others how much pain he is in. (I don’t actually believe he did this, as there was no sign of his hand being burned).

Allan’s life is full of inconsistent events. He seems to have a support system in his parents but I have only met his father, who is very concerned about Allan. On the other hand, his father often feeds into Allan’s overly dramatic behaviours and, at times, seems to compete with him in regards to histrionic scenes.

Recently Allan said to me, “I’m in such agony; my soul is on fire.” What a telling statement – he feels overwhelmed, lonely, humiliated and like a failure. Now you know why I say I don’t know if he will make it to the next appointment. As it is beyond the scope of this article to discuss his situation further, I would like to focus on childhood and teen feelings of distress.

Telling kids that their teen years are the best years of their lives is not necessarily true. In fact, I often say that I would not like to be a teenager today. There is so much stimuli bombarding them at every moment, they so many decisions to make, and they deal with so much stress and expectations – with limited resources at their disposal.

A local Toronto radio station has as its motto, “Beautiful music for a crazy world.” I’m almost surprised with their honesty. It really is a crazy world we live in and it tends to make some people crazy, or at least feel as if they are. We are all bombarded with changes – some good, some not so good and others just difficult to understand. We struggle to the best we can.

For kids, often the level of stress or distress they deal with is dependent on their familiarity with the situation. When our environment is chaotic or fear inducing, we may have a hard time separating ourselves emotionally from what is going on around us. In fact, internally we become part of the chaos. We all adjust better to more familiar situations. That is, we learn to cope best with situations as they become more familiar to us.

Dealing with personal or family challenges is difficult in the best of times. For children and teens it’s even harder. Life for many young people is a painful tug of war filled with mixed messages and conflicting demands from parents, teachers, coaches, employers, friends and themselves. Growing up—negotiating a path between independence and reliance on others—is a tough business. It creates stress, and it can cause serious depression for young people ill-equipped to cope, communicate and solve problems.

Some experiences are more severe or long lasting, while some kids may react to setbacks in different ways. Children and teens may indicate to their parents or others that they are distressed or unable to cope directly, or more often, through various hints. Most common for a teen is to show his or her distress through changes in mood or behaviour, at home, at school or with friends.

The teen years are emotional, fascinating, tumultuous, exciting, fearsome, lonely and social at the same time and filled with angst over the ultimate question, “Who am I.” What I’m about to say is difficult for adults to hear as well as comprehend. Nevertheless, here it is: I believe that much of an adolescent’s rebellion is, in fact, part of the developmental transition from childhood to adulthood. Almost by definition, adolescence is a time of chaos and struggle for one’s self identity: He or she is no longer the dependent child. Teens go from relying on us (and most of us enjoying that role) to learning to make life changing decisions, becoming independent and a self-fulfilled adult. As they push us away and ask to be allowed to make their own decisions, and mistakes, they are using the only tool they believe they have to become self-actualized.

Mountains Hanging On Hairs

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You arrive home after shul on Friday night. All the dishes washed before Shabbat are locked in the dishwasher. You have no other eating utensils and you want to retrieve them for the Friday night meal. In order to take them out you have to unlock the door by turning the lever lock to the left. The action of the lever to unlock the door automatically turns off the panel indicator lights that advise you the dishwashing cycle is complete. So you cannot open the door without turning off the lights. What do you do?

Clearly, the act of retrieving the dishes from the dishwasher is, in itself, a permissible act on Shabbat. The problem is that it inevitably causes the melachah of switching off the indicator lights. This melachah is the inevitable and unintended result of retrieving the dishes, though it is of no use to its performer. An inevitable melachah that is of no use to its performer and that arises out of a permitted act is known in halachic terminology as psik reishe de lo neecha leh. We shall refer to it as the “inevitable, unwanted melachah.”

If one performed an inevitable, unwanted melachah, one is patur, which means exempt from any biblical liability. The question is whether one is allowed under rabbinical law to deliberately perform an inevitable, unwanted melachah such as, for example, turning the indicator lights off in order to retrieve the dishes.

The answer to this question depends on the classification of the inevitable, unwanted melachah and the existence or absence of any mitigating circumstances. If the inevitable, unwanted melachah is biblically prohibited, then according to the majority of halachic opinions one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes it. There is a minority opinion – that of the Aruch – that permits it, but the halacha does not adopt this minority opinion.

Accordingly, one may not, for example, wash one’s hands over a public lawn because even though washing one’s hands is permitted on Shabbat, it causes the inevitable, unwanted result of watering the grass. And watering the grass on Shabbat is classified under the biblical melachah of plowing and sowing.

Similarly, one may not open a door to the street on a windy day when the inevitable, unwanted result of the permitted act will be that lighted candles placed next to the door blow out.

What if the inevitable, unwanted melachah is not biblically prohibited but only rabbinically prohibited? Still, according to the majority of opinions, one may not deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the rabbinical melachah, except in a limited number of mitigating circumstances. Physical pain or discomfort or the performance of a mitzvah are examples of mitigating circumstances that might permit one to deliberately perform the permitted act that causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah.

For example, trapping a bird inside one’s home is rabbinically prohibited. Yet if a wild bird flew into one’s house in winter, one would be allowed to close the windows to avoid the cold. This act is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted rabbinical melachah of trapping.

If the red berries on the hadas, the myrtle branch, are more numerous than the myrtle leaves, the hadas is invalid for arba minim. Yet if a friend of the hadas owner picks off the berries on Yom Tov for food, the owner of the hadas would be permitted to use it for the mitzvah of arba minim. Picking the berries in this way is permitted even though it causes the inevitable, unwanted melachah of fixing something for use – makeh bepatish – because it enables the performance of a mitzvah.

Is the inevitable, unwanted melachah of turning off the dishwasher indicator lights a biblical melachah or a rabbinical melachah? The biblical melachah of extinguishing fire was performed in the Sanctuary to produce glowing embers needed to smelt metal. Extinguishing fire for any other purpose not used in the Sanctuary is called a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa. Although biblically exempt from liability once performed, a melachah she’eina tzericha legufa is rabbinically prohibited and should not be deliberately performed. The majority of modern poskim agree that turning off an electric light involves the act of extinguishing fire and is therefore prohibited under the category of melachah she’eina tericah legufa. It is further accepted that the rabbis are less lenient with the melachah of extinguishing fire than with other rabbinical melachot.

Jewish Destiny Or Iron Dome?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

After the Pillar of Defense cease-fire, many now understand what we understood after the Zo Artzeinu demonstrations: The Israeli crisis is not on the continuum between Right and Left. It is on the continuum between Israelis and their Jewish identity.

We knew exactly where the Oslo Accords would lead. The huge amount of people who answered Zo Artzeinu’s calls and blocked traffic throughout the entire country understood the reality. Ultimately, we succeeded – against all odds – in electing the Right to rule. But Zo Artzeinu refused to “cash in” politically on the tremendous public credit that it had accrued. We understood that the Right also had no solution and that it was also incapable of getting off the Oslo track.

Many are angry with Prime Minister Netanyahu for signing the cease-fire. But Netanyahu’s predicament is a precise reflection of post-Oslo Israeli society. If Netanyahu had ordered a ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers would have been killed. After a short period of time he would have pulled the troops out of Gaza without significant achievements. After all, he had no intention of remaining. The retreat after many more fatalities would have ignited much more virulent criticism.

To remain in Gaza, we must first renounce the very essence of the idea of partitioning the land of Israel. We have to internalize that this is exclusively our land. We must, on a national scale, return to the land of Israel and to our Jewish identity. We must beg for the forgiveness of the Jews expelled from Gush Katif and rebuild their towns and villages with the forces that destroyed them – and bring them back to their rightful place with an honor guard.

We must vote with our feet, declaring to all that this is our land and proving to our enemies that this is not their land. Most important is that we must expel the Muslim waqf from the Temple Mount and restore exclusive Israeli sovereignty over the Mount – Judaism’s holiest site. We must encourage Jews to ascend the Temple Mount after the proper halachic preparations and to actualize their sovereignty over the beating heart of the Jewish nation.

If we do not take all these measures, there really is no reason to endanger our soldiers just so they can go into Gaza and retreat again. Every round of this type of fighting only proves the enemy’s claim that we are colonialist conquerors and not liberators of our own land. Security and pragmatic claims don’t convince the world anymore. The Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial no longer does the work for us. It can’t be a replacement for the true justice of our cause. Just a short time after a hypothetical ground invasion of Gaza, international public opinion would come down squarely on the side that talks about justice – the very justice that we, with the cursed Oslo handshake, deposited into the hands of Yasir Arafat.

Is Israeli society ready for this type of return, the return to being ourselves?

Netanyahu expresses the dichotomy in Israeli society between the “Israeli” who wants to escape to “normalcy” by disengaging from the land of Israel and the “Jew” who wants to connect to his identity and national destiny – expressed by loyalty to the land of Israel.

Many will now try to escape this complex reality by voting for the rightist parties. If they are too successful, the result will be that the next government coalition will not be formed by Netanyahu and his allies, but instead by Shelly Yachimovich, Yair Lapid and Aryeh Deri. The political situation in Israel is also part of the same dichotomy. It expresses the same dead-end mentality – Oslo – that brought about the defeat.

The Israelis want the best of both worlds: security and normalcy. But it has become quite clear that it is specifically the mental servitude to Oslo, the flight from destiny to the enslavement to normalcy and pragmatism that has so severely compromised Israel’s security.

It turns out that it is actually the “delusional extremists,” the “propellers” (as Yitzhak Rabin derisively called those who opposed Oslo) who are the most realistic of all. It turns out that the choice that the Israelis are being forced to make is not between living under a bareheaded secularism or a kippah of observance. Their choice is between their Jewish destiny and living under an Iron Dome.

Operation Pillar Of Defense Becomes A Cloudy Pillar

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

As I write this, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has just announced, during a televised press conference, his decision not to run in the coming elections and to leave politics.

There is jubilation in Gaza, as Hamas is selling the idea that Israel’s defense minister admitted defeat.

And there is jubilation on the right side of the Israeli political spectrum, with Minister Yuli Edelstein, a resident of Neve Daniel in Gush Etzion, expressing his joy at the departure of a man who recently suggested a unilateral withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.

My daughter Sara and her husband, and all the residents of Bat Ayin Bet, certainly breathed a sigh of relief. Her house was destroyed one night during Netanyahu’s building freeze. (Her husband, a builder, put up two houses in its place.)

With this as a preface, let us analyze the outcome of the eight-day military campaign dubbed “Pillar of a Cloud,” based on a biblical image but mistranslated into English as “Pillar of Defense.”

We must ask: How did Pillar of a Cloud end up a very cloudy pillar?

The Hamas terrorists have been given credibility by achieving a cease-fire with Israel, through the efforts of the new president of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and anti Israel activist Mohamed Morsi.

In other words, Hamas is now a recognized political entity – one that will never rest until Israel is erased from the map. We have turned them into a pillar – a cloudy pillar, but a pillar just the same. This after Netanyahu had been so outspoken before the last election calling for the dismantling of Hamastan in Gaza.

And Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister and head of the Yisrael Beiteinu Party, had said, upon joining the government, that one of Israel’s goals must be the end of Hamas rule in Gaza.

So what went wrong?

I think the choice of a holy name like Ahmud Anan, Pillar of a Cloud, demanded a ferocious biblical response to the years of constant rocket fire inflicted on the people of Israel.

God spoke to us from a pillar of a cloud (Tehillim 99). He appeared in a pillar of a cloud to Aaron to rebuke him for speaking badly about our teacher Moshe (Bamidbar 12:5).

The very first time we read of this pillar of a cloud, it guided the Jews as they left Egypt.

But our Pillar of a Cloud military campaign led Israel right back to Egypt because our leaders agreed that they must go to Cairo to complain about any violations of the cease-fire.

Once we dared put a Torah name to this campaign, we should have followed through to keep two rabbinically taught mitzvos. If someone comes to kill you, arise and kill him first. And when the opportunity comes to do a mitzvah, take immediate action. (We need to be quick in matzah-baking lest the matzah become chametz; Rav Osheya taught: replace the word matzah with mitzvah. Respond quickly.)

In the early stages of Pillar of a Cloud, Israel neutralized the chief of the Hamas military wing. The IAF bombed strategic sites, destroying most of the M75 long-range missiles in an initial blow. Reserve soldiers were called into action on the third day and were ready to start the ground battle – just when the Egyptian president demanded the opportunity to draw up a cease-fire agreement.

But the sudden tragic death of his sister caused him to become preoccupied with family matters, and that was our opportunity to quickly send in the troops and carry out the two above-mentioned mitzvos.

Benny Ganz, the IDF chief of staff, said his “solders are motivated, they are ready. It’ll be dangerous to leave them waiting at the border; they’re sitting ducks.”

Whose decision was it? The prime minister’s? He’s not the commander in chief. Lieberman’s? He’s only the foreign Minister. Ehud Barak is the defense minister, so it was his call, but he’s a man ready for unilateral withdrawals.

So in the first eight days of the month of Chanukah – when, for eight days and eight candles we celebrate the greatest ground battle in Jewish history, the victory of the Maccabees – we allowed ourselves to be pushed into a cease-fire that solves nothing and allows Hamas to rearm.

Pillar Of Defense Aftermath

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

We doubt anyone outside of the Palestinian street really believes the stream of Hamas hyperbole that it emerged from Operation Pillar Of Defense in a better position than before. Of course, we have come to expect this sort of fantasy-based spin from much of the Arab world. Indeed, all reports prior to the cease-fire indicated that Hamas’s military capacity had been severely degraded and its ability to shoot rockets at Israel largely neutralized, at least for now. And Hamas lost some of its top military commanders.

In a sober, understated report, OC Southern Command Maj. Gen. Tal Russo said that “Hamas’s long-range rocket fire has been all but destroyed” and that “Hamas’s drone capabilities were destroyed.”

“We can measure results only after a reasonable period of time passes,” he noted. “Hamas has been badly damaged. Deterrence is in place, despite the victory cries we heard in Gaza. Israel and Hamas both know Hamas has been hit hard.”

We were initially dismayed by the text of the cease-fire agreement, which in addition to providing for the end of all hostilities also opened the door for discussions about opening the crossings between Gaza and the outside world. Did this not suggest that Hamas’s intensified rocket attacks had, in the end, succeeded moving along an issue long pursued by Hamas?

A fuller story will doubtless emerge in the coming weeks. But it already appears that Israel came out ahead of the game beyond even what Maj.General Russo indicated. The perpetuation of the Israeli-Egyptian treaty is of vital interest to both Israel and the U.S. in terms of Israel’s security needs and regional stability. And Israel’s overriding reason for the Gaza blockade is to stanch the rampant weapons smuggling from Syria and Iran.

According to news reports, the Obama administration has come to accept that any relaxation of restrictions on Gaza would require assurances that arms smuggling end. The Jerusalem Post cited comments by an unnamed senior American official who said Washington understands that stopping the smuggling is a “critical element” of the cease-fire and that the U.S. will make it a priority in its discussions with Egypt and other international players.

The same official said that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama recognized early on that Egypt was the “only party that could influence Hamas and get them to accept certain things,” and Egyptian President Morsi seems to have delivered. But Mr. Morsi, desperate for American financial aid and wanting to please President Obama, had to deliver something to Hamas. Ergo, there will be discussions designed to ease travel restrictions but Egypt will now also be the guarantor for the cessation of weapons smuggling.

And there are other added dividends. Because of U.S. involvement, Egypt and Israel seem to be on the same side of the smuggling issue which can only enhance their interaction and strengthen prospects for the continued life of the peace treaty. (This of course will depend at least somewhat on Mr. Morsi’s surviving the current crisis in Egypt precipitated by his presidential order granting himself near dictatorial powers.)

It also seems clear that the conflict has resulted in a dramatic uptick in cooperation between Israel and the U.S. This was noted in an analytical New York Times piece last week in the aftermath of the truce agreement:

The conflict that ended, for now, in a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel seemed like the latest episode in a periodic showdown. But there was a second, strategic agenda unfolding, according to American and Israeli officials: the exchange was something of a practice run for any future armed confrontation with Iran, featuring improved rockets that can reach Jerusalem and new antimissile systems to counter them.

It is Iran, of course, that most preoccupies Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama. While disagreeing on tactics, both have made it clear that time is short, probably measured in months, to resolve the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program.

And one key to their war-gaming has been cutting off Iran’s ability to slip next-generation missiles into the Gaza Strip or Lebanon, where they could be launched by Iran’s surrogates, Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, during any crisis over sanctions or an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Gaza Imam: Breaking Ceasefire Would Be A Sin

Monday, November 26th, 2012

A Muslim imam in Gaza has issued a religious edict, or fatwa, that says it is a sin to violate the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Suleiman al-Daya issued the fatwa on Saturday night, according to Haaretz, after a top Hamas official said the terrorist organization would continue to stockpile arms although it was prohibited under the agreement brokered last week by Egypt.

“Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us,” al-Daya said in his edict. “Violating it shall constitute a sin.”

Police: Sharp Increase in Terrorist Activity Since Gaza Operation

Monday, November 26th, 2012

Since the commencing of Operation ‘Pillar of Cloud’ the police have recorded many events of terrorist activities and public disturbance in Judea and Samaria, which constitute a sharp increase in terrorist activity in the region. Stones and Molotov cocktails were thrown at cars, roads were blocked and tires were burned, marches were conducted. 201 events of rioting were documented by the police during the period of the operation. 136 rioters were arrested. 18 suspects of stone throwing were released, one suspect of throwing a Molotov cocktail was released; all the rest remain in custody.

On Nov. 20th an Israeli woman was critically wounded near the village of Hussan by rocks thrown at her car. On Nov. 22nd shots were fired at a bus in Gush Etzion, no one was wounded in this incident.

The police have stated that they will not tolerate disturbances, and they intend to use their full authority to bring to justice anyone who chooses to disturb the peace.

Tazpit News Agency has documented the increase events as well. The following is a log of the events documented by the agency, which occurred on Monday, Nov. 19th:

 

During the previous night, at the village Urif (near Yitzhar) – Police were attacked with stones, one policeman was slightly injured.

09:00 – Za’tara (near Tekoa) Dozens of Arabs rioted and blocked the road. The IDF responded with riot control measures.

11:00 – Dozens of Arabs blocked Route 443 in a protest against the Gaza operation. The rioters damaged the security fence.

11:00 – Disturbances of dozens of Arabs in Qalandiya, near Jerusalem.

11:25 – Bridge of Bir Zeit, about 200 Arabs tried to get to the Benyamin Highway, some throwing stones and burning tires. The IDF responded with riot control measures. During the public disturbances a fire bomber was identified as he prepared to throw a petrol bomb at the soldiers. They returned accurate fire. A knee injury was identified.

11:40 – Anun Junction (near Hebron) road blocked to movement of Jews due to some 100 Arabs rioting and throwing stones at IDF forces and Israeli vehicles.

13:30 – Damage caused to several Israeli vehicles due to stone throwing on Route 443.

13:50 – Furik Junction near Itamar, 200 Arabs rioting, burning tires and throwing stones. IDF troops pushed them off the road, which is used by both Arabsand Israelis.

13:55 – Road between Itamar and Elon Moreh blocked by stones. A number of Israeli vehicles were damaged, one of the cars of an Elon Moreh resident on his way to the south after receiving an emergency IDF call up.

14:00 – Dozens of Arabs rioted near the Ofer base, throwing stones and burning tires.

14:00 – About 30 Arabs blocked route 60 near Ofra, IDF forces dispersed the crowd. Stones were thrown at them.

14:00 – Nakhaliel, a number of Arabs trying to infiltrate the community. After arrival of Security forces they fled the scene, leaving PLO and Hamas flags on the fence. The security fence was damaged.

14:30 – Stone throwing at Benyamin, on the Abud bypass road. Stone-throwing continued until the night, causing damage to several Israeli vehicles.

14:30 – Riot of about 30 Arabs throwing stones at IDF forces and Israeli vehicles traveling on the Trans Benyamin road. Disturbances continued until the night, causing damage to several Israeli vehicles.

14:30 – Disturbance of approximately 50 Arabs from the village of Deir Abu Meshal in Benyamin. Stone throwing continued until dark.

15:00 – At Betilu, located near Neve Tsuf, rolling of stones and burning tires by dozens of Arabs. Road closed to Jewish traffic on and off.

16:40 – A terrorist who tried to throw a fire bomb at an IDF force near Beit Hadassah in Hebron was killed by soldiers.

16:30 – Throwing of stones at the bus in El Fower (South Hebron)

17:00 – Hebron – riots of dozens of Arabs in several locations, throwing stones, Molotov cocktails and burning tires.

18:00 – stone throwing at Husan bypass road near Betar. Several Israeli vehicles damaged.

18:00 – Throwing stones at Israeli cars and a bus at the intersection of Yitzhar.

18:30 – Highway 55 near Azzun, near Karni Shomron. Dozens of Arabs threw stones at Israeli vehicles and IDF forces while burning tires. Army responded with crowd dispersal means.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/terrorism-news/police-report-sharp-increase-of-terrorist-activity-in-judea-and-samaria-since-operation-pillar-of-cloud/2012/11/26/

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